Tag Archives: South Africa

FT.com: British press stays silent on South African press freedom threat

The FT’s chief foreign affairs commentator criticises the British press for its lack of coverage of a proposed law in South Africa that would pose a substantial threat to press freedom.

The proposed law is a major threat to South African democracy. Yet, I have been struck by the almost total silence of the British press on this subject. Papers that devoted acres of space to the success of the World Cup cannot be bothered to follow up with a report of what’s going on in South Africa now.

Full post on FT.com at this link…

Sipho Ngcobo charts a ‘frightening’ week for South African journalism

Following the arrest of Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Sipho Ngcobo, Sunday Times investigative journalist and former deputy editor of Business Report, reflects on what he says was a “frightening” week for journalists in South Africa.

South African media are currently battling the Protection of Information Bill, which according to Ngcobo is fuelling fears the government will be able to “clampdown and muzzle media”.

There is virtually no real clarity as what Mzilikazi wa Afrika was arrested for. But we worry, I worry about him. I worry about the profession and the business of media. I am worried sick about the future of the industry.

But, he adds, the growth in poor quality journalism does warrant improved regulation of the media, or else reporters should prepare for the “death” of the industry.

I cannot say I am totally surprised by the proposed Bill. There has been a lot of shoddy journalism taking place. Some of it has been outright criminal, extremely libellous, demeaning to individuals and families and even contemptuous to the courts. It has been so bad that I have often wondered what the future holds.

See his full post on MoneyWeb here…

South African journalist arrested and detained at ‘undisclosed location’

Mzilikazi wa Afrika, a journalist for South African newspaper the Sunday Times, was arrested at the paper’s headquarters earlier today for possession of a letter, which police claim to be “a fraudulent letter of resignation” from premier of the Mpumalanga region, David Dabede Mabuza, to South African President Jacob Zuma.

The Sunday Times reports on the arrest via its Times Live website:

Wa Afrika was seized by police who became involved in a screaming match with senior editors about whether photographers could take pictures.

TheTimes editor Ray Hartley, adds in a blog post:

I am deeply concerned at the fact that a journalist can be arrested and held at an undisclosed location in a country where the rule of law ought to apply.

He was arrested by a large number of policemen in an operation which was clearly designed to intimidate and I can only conclude that this was the true motive for what took place today.

The empty desk of Sunday Times Journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika... on TwitpicThe Times used Twitter to help break the story of Wa Afrika’s arrest, including posting a picture of his empty desk:

From the Daily Dispatch: Reporting investigative journalism online

Jan Hennop is online news editor at Daily Dispatch, a South African news organisation specialising in online investigative journalism. This piece on the site’s investigation to see if government promises to improve schools in rural South Africa had been kept first appeared on Poynter Online and is reproduced here with permission.

Read Journalism.co.uk’s Q&A with the Daily Dispatch’s online team at this link.

Towards the end of 2009, a team of four young Daily Dispatch reporters – two print reporters, a photographer and a videographer – travelled deep into rural South Africa to do an investigative project looking at education.

They were following up on a promise made by the country’s education minister Naledi Pandor after a visit a year before to the Mbizana district, in the rolling green hills of the Eastern Cape province, not far from where former president Nelson Mandela was born.

Pandor’s visit was prompted by the fact that the Mbizana district represented the worst 12th grade (commonly referred to as ‘Matric’) results nationwide in South Africa in 2008.

Here, only 29.3 per cent of all pupils passed high school that year. And even if they did, their marks were so low, the standard of their education so poor, that very few if any, stood a chance of entering college or a university.

“Never again” would this failure be allowed to happen again, Minister Pandor promised during her visit.

A year later, as the Class of 2009 were sitting down to write their final exams, a Dispatch team once again visited the area to see if the minister’s promise was kept.

For two weeks, our team lived with pupils and visited schools, speaking to principals, teachers, pupils and parents.

Although there were some glimmers of hope, our team found that rural education in South Africa remains in deep crisis.

A failure to live up to promises continued to lead to the failed futures of a generation of poor, rural and mainly black South African children.

We discovered horrific conditions in the classroom – as well as at home.

In some schools, up to 120 kids were crammed into one class – and there were in Grade 12 some students as old as 25, some with children of their own – adding a different social dynamic to schooling.

Many of these “older” pupils, like Nomalanga Qadi, are not only trying to get through school: she’s also raising a baby of her own, as well as children belonging to relatives. She does not have a job and like millions of other South Africans, depends on a government hand-out to keep her alive.

Our investigation looked at three schools: one which was doing relatively well under the circumstances; another where the situation was hovering on the abyss; and a third, where education has turned into an absolute disaster.

What our team found was that the realities facing these schools was an echo of those facing thousands of other schools in rural South Africa.

And that rural education in South Africa needs urgent intervention.

We hope our investigation will help to focus government’s attention on this crisis.

At the same time, we wanted to present our work in a creative and interesting way, especially online.

So how did we do it?

Landing page: DispatchOnline’s senior graphic artist Rudi Louw used Flash animation on our landing page to scroll a small introduction in the left hand corner. We have also built in a Flash mouse-over effect which gives a small introduction of the situation at each school we looked at.

Blogs: As per our other online investigations, we used WordPress as our blogging platform. We embedded both galleries as well as video plug-ins to help us enhance our story. Our team in the field shot the pics and video and edited it offline.

Since our connection speeds in rural areas in SA are either non-existent or very slow (256 kbps), our online postings were done after the team returned from the field, which did somewhat slow down our production time.

Video: For the first time we really pursued a television-reporting-style approach to the subject, with our young reporter Asa Sokopo interviewing her subjects. The video editing process would start in the field by the DispatchOnline’s videographer Sino Majangaza.

Flipbook for WordPress: One of the coolest and latest additions to our online arsenal is the use of a flipbook plugin, which allowed us to tell pupils’ story in a very unique and special way.

We are particularly proud of our “Book of Dreams” which gives the reader the ultimate feeling of authenticity when reading the hopes and dreams of these pupils.

Map: We again used a Google interactive map to mark the positions of the schools and supply interesting statistical data about them.

Striking stories: If you are prepared to spend a bit of time like our team did, you will find a wealth of of stories in rural South Africa.

One of the most striking stories is that of 25-year-old Nomalanga Qadi: Nomalanga is no ordinary matric pupil – she is 25-years-old and is the sole guardian of her brother Mandla, 15, and sister  Zanele, 13. She is also a mother to two-year-old Lungani.

She takes time off from Nomagqwethekana Comprehensive Technical High School to fetch social grants she needs  to support her family.

Our team hopes that focusing on the desperate situation of Qadi and others like her will help to improve their lot in life.

All-in-all, this was one of our most rewarding online investigations to date and we hope the experience we had with it will inspire other journalists around the world to do the same.

‘There is a future for journalism, but it is a very expansive future,’ says conference organiser

Glyn Mottershead teaches newspaper journalism at the University of Cardiff. He blogs at http://egrommet.net/ and is @egrommet on Twitter.

Journalism will survive – but there’s no simple solution for how it gets there, or who is going to pay for it. That was the key message that underpinned the Future of Journalism conference at the Cardiff University School of Journalism, Media and Cultural studies last week.

Delegates from 42 countries gathered in the city to hear over 100 papers looking at the industry from a range of aspects:

  • New media technologies, blogs and UGC;
  • Sources; Ethics; Regulation; and Journalism practice;
  • Global journalism;
  • Education, training and employment of journalists; History
  • Business; Citizen/activist journalism

James Curran (professor of communications at Goldsmith’s College) and Bettina Peters (director of the Global Forum for Media Development) kicked off proceedings with their plenary address.

Curran’s plenary focused on different views of the future: the survivalists, the new media romantics and those who believe there is a crisis of democracy afoot.

Being passive is not an option for the industry or academics, he argued. It is futile to try and predict the future: the focus should be on moulding and shaping the future where the two can work together to keep journalism alive.

Bettina Peters of the Global Forum for Media Development questioned whether it was appropriate to try and export business models from the developed world to the developing world. She discussed the need for collaboration between the northern and southern hemispheres. Journalism needs to be looking at mixed funding models, she said.

She too was concerned that journalists and educators needed to engage in a global discussion to share ideas and solutions and that the conversations shouldn’t just be about money or tools – two key strands of current industry discussion both on- and off-line.

Jon Bramley from Thomson Reuters, John Horgan the Irish press ombudsman, and Kevin Z. Smith, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, were among the participants presenting papers. A full timetable can be found at this link [PDF].

Conference organiser Professor Bob Franklin, of the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, was keen to stress that this wasn’t an academic talking shop – but a key place where journalists and those studying journalism can get together to share research and ideas from around the globe, something crucial given the massive changes taking place in the industry.

His view was that the conference showed there is no single future for journalism. This was echoed in roundtable talks with journalism educators who were finding it difficult to determine what media organisations need, while journalists in the room stated that the media didn’t know what it wants.

Professor Franklin, like many others at the conference, believes the key to the future of journalism depends on the platform and location: while newspapers are in decline in Europe and America they are thriving in India, and there is a rise in daily tabloids in urban South Africa – with a thriving market in used copies of newspapers.

“The conference was about the future of journalism, and that future looks very different from where you are standing,” said Franklin. “We were talking about possibilities, not about sowing gems of wisdom. There is a future for journalism, but it is a very expansive future.”

Video: Professor Alfred Hermida on the Future of Journalism

Newswatch: Q&A with Bill Kovach, founder of the Committee for Concerned Journalists

Newswatch, the weekly Nigerian news magazine, has interviewed Bill Kovach, the former curator of the Nieman Journalism Foundation at Harvard University, and the founder of the Committee for Concerned Journalists, CCJ. Earlier in his career Kovach was chief of the New York Times Washington bureau, and executive editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Kovach answers questions about his (54 year long) career to date. Some of the best answers come near the end – on African news coverage, for example:

“[I] think the western world, I don’t know about the rest of the world, but the western world has always thought of Africa as something they had to interprete through their eyes and I always thought that was wrong.


“One of the things I love about the Nieman programme is that back in the 1960s, the Nieman programme refused to take people from South Africa because South African authorities only wanted white. But Harvard told the South African government and owners of the press that whites would be taken only if every other year, we got a black South African. And so, we began to bring into the Nieman programme white South Africans. Every other year, and soon it was every year, more whites and blacks got their chances.”

Full Q&A at this link…

You must not embed the Telegraph’s embeddable video

It might look like you can embed this Telegraph video on your blog:


But no: please take note of the last part.

As both Journalism.co.uk and Fred Hatman, a journalist in South Africa found out, embed codes are only for ‘personal use’. That didn’t include Hatman (@fredhatman) even though he is a lone blogger.

Instead, we had to feature the story of the Telegraph journalist who was attacked by a lion after willingly entering its enclosure (mauling received surprisingly cheerfully) without the accompanying video. We got permission to link though!

Syndication@telegraph.co.uk informs us:

“I’m afraid at this time we can’t grant permission for you to host the video, but you are welcome to link to it.”

So we asked them why they supplied the code? And how could we fulfil the requirements for a licence? They replied:

“My understanding is that this function is for personal use only, not for commercial use, as per our terms and conditions.  Often we are able to issue a licence for the content, but on this occasion Telegraph.co.uk are not offering this video for web syndication.”

Journalism.co.uk wonders how Telegraph.co.uk will monitor and police misuse of the videos – if abuse was extensive. Or how they decide who is commercial and who is not? If, as the Syndication people tell us, ‘on this occasion Telegraph.co.uk are not offering this video for web syndication’ why bother supplying it at all? Isn’t that just asking for trouble?

Telegraph journalist gets mauled in lion’s enclosure (video)

We’ve just watched a Telegraph TV video: journalist Charles Starmer Smith getting mauled by a lion in Limpopo Province, South Africa – after entering its enclosure.

Perhaps his comment that ‘the lion just obeys what he [Arrie, the handler] does and plays (…) but stops up to a point’ was a little premature. He doesn’t look so relaxed when the animal’s teeth are firmly stuck into his leg.

Nonetheless, he is smiling when he steps out of the enclosure: he can’t wait to get home and ‘show off’ his scars he says. Then he goes off to get some stitches.

Starmer Smith’s account here.

Video at this link.

(Hat-tip: Fred Hatman)

Is World Journalism in Crisis? Speaker update: Nick Davies confirmed

As previously reported on Journalism.co.uk, we are supporting an event at Coventry University on October 28 that will ask ‘Is World Journalism in Crisis?’ with participants contributing via video-link from around the globe.

It already had an exciting line-up: chaired by the BBC College of Journalism’s Kevin Marsh, speakers include Fackson Banda, SAB-UNESCO Chair of Media & Democracy at Rhodes University, South Africa; Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine blogger and journalism professor at City University New York (CUNY), and Professor Adrian Monck, World Economic Forum, former head of journalism at City University, London.

Now Nick Davies, author of Flat Earth News and special correspondent for the Guardian, is also confirmed – live from Brighton. And, we’re permitted to hint, it looks very likely that the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman will be joining the conversation from London.

‘Is World Journalism in Crisis?’ Wednesday October 28, 2-5 pm. Entry will be free. For further information please contact John Mair at Coventry University, johnmair100 at hotmail.com or Judith Townend: judith at journalism.co.uk.

NB: The event will follow the annual conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics, ‘I’m an ethicist… get me out of here: Communication, celebrity and conscience in a global media age,’ also in Coventry, from 10am to 12:30. For further details contact Katherine Hill: K.Hill [at] leedstrinity.ac.uk.

SA president Zuma accepts damages from Guardian in libel case

South African president Jacob Zuma last week settled his libel case against the Guardian and accepted ‘substantial damages’ from the paper, according to Reuters.

Zuma began proceedings in March after publication of a piece by Simon Jenkins, which was subsequently removed from the Guardian website, suggested he was guilty of rape.

Zuma continued with a civil case against the Guardian newspaper, despite an apology run by the title in April.

The reference was the result of an editing error, the paper said in its apology – Zuma was acquitted of rape charges in 2006, it said.

But the apology was not deemed appropriate by Zuma’s lawyers. According to the Reuters’ report, the Guardian’s owners made an offer of damages in May, which was accepted by Zuma last week.